HC Deb 08 November 1967 vol 753 cc1022-4
31. Mr. Bishop

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress to date with F111 offset purchases, with particular reference to Elliott's order for head-up display equipment.

37. Mr. John Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the value of the contract awarded to Messrs. Elliott Automation for head-up display equipment for United States Navy aircraft; and whether this will count against the F111 offset purchases agreement.

48. Mr. Woof

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the major orders that have been obtained by British industry under the F111 offset-agreement; and how many British firms have so far tendered for orders.

50. Mr. Bagier

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made with the F111 offset purchasing arrangements agreed with the United States Government.

53. Mr. Boston

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of the defence contracts that have been obtained from the United States of America.

Mr. Mason

I am pleased to tell the House that proposals made by Messrs. Elliott Automation Limited for the supply of head-up display equipment for the United States A7 aircraft have been accepted. This should mean sales worth about $40 million. We have now received other orders from the United States Department for Defense, and from U.S. defence contractors, worth nearly $138 million. The main items are Spey engine components worth $82 million; three salvage tugs and two survey ships worth $40 million; aircraft equipment worth $6 million; machine tools worth $3 million; and general stores such as fence posts and pipes worth $4 million. The balance is made up of miscellaneous items of naval and army equipment worth $3 million. These orders have been won by 28 different firms.

Mr. Bishop

While appreciating my hon. Friend's reply and the effect of the offset agreement upon our industry, may I ask whether he is satisfied that his Ministry and others are doing all they can to enable our firms to compete in United States markets?

Mr. Mason

The offset arrangement is giving British firms ample opportunity and they are responding very well. It has given them a chance to sell equipment of advanced technological design to the Americans. The Elliott equipment is a typical example.

Mr. Ellis

Considerable doubt has been cast on the value of the offset agreement. Can my hon. Friend state whether the securing of this order was helped by the agreement?

Mr. Mason

Undoubtedly so. British industry already is taking a great interest. Indeed, 400 firms have shown an interest in the arrangement.

Mr. Bagier

In view of the obvious effect on our shipbuilding industry, what has happened to the bid which it was hoped to make for minesweepers for the United States Navy?

Mr. Mason

As I have said, we are already building five other ships for the American Navy. After the slight "hiccup" our shipyards have been invited to bid for nine minesweepers.

Mr. Boston

How many British firms altogether have tendered for these and further orders?

Mr. Mason

Altogether 400 British firms have shown interest, but I cannot give the specific number of firms which have already tendered.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

The items the hon. Gentleman listed in his first reply had already been announced in one way or another. Is it not the case that the head-up display was accepted entirely on its merits and not because of the agreement?

Mr. Mason

This is not true. The lower tariffs introduced in order to help British firms sell defence equipment to the United States have helped considerably.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury gave an untruthful answer to the House to my Written Question No. 30 last Friday concerning the total outstanding value of dollar debts contracted for aircraft in America by the present Government?

Mr. Mason

I do not know the Question or the Answer and so I cannot comment.